What Makes BecomeOne So Different?
The Story of a Passion for Feel in Riding
Hi, I'm Gabrielle Dareau, founder of the BecomeOne Academy.
This course is the fruit of my long search for the real answers behind correct, genuinely harmonious riding.
My philosophy of equitation is founded on the extraordinary connection we can create with the horse when we allow the combination of feel and correct technique to lead us to true balance.
I believe this perfect state of togetherness and balance is something that many riders are instinctively seeking, especially those who are drawn to dressage riding.
Yet so many riders are struggling to get there, as I did for years, due to a lack of clear advice on how to develop their riding skills in a way that really makes a difference to the horse’s way of going.
I know just how frustrating it feels to be stuck in bad habits, to feel unbalanced and ineffective as a rider, and to have no way of resolving the horse's resistances. I was there too, and I struggled for years to find real answers.
I chose to commit to pursuing the feeling of balance in riding, on my own terms, since traditional dressage techniques had not provided the solution I was looking for.
Guided by the horses themselves, often difficult cases rejected by conventional methods, I developed a profound understanding of the way the rider can develop their posture to connect to the horse's movement and create a new balance. I've now helped many riders, of all levels, discover a totally different experience of riding.
My passion for the last twenty years has been to study the pure postural interaction between horse and rider, from a biomechanical point of view, without allowing any other agenda to put me off course.
I have chosen to give the horse the last word on what correct riding really involves, instead of following conventions or going after appearances and recognition.
I started out my dressage education and my search for answers by studying as many different approaches as possible: reading past and present masters, traveling to watch the teaching of world-renowned trainers, and then becoming a student of the late Daniel Pevsner, a former pupil of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.
One of the first to apply the Alexander Technique to riding, Danny had given me a taste for the importance of the posture in riding, but many of my questions on making the theoretical ideals become a practical reality still remained unanswered.
Then came the enlightening discovery of Charles de Kunffy, in my view the most knowledgeable figure, past or present, in the complex domain of gymnastically sound dressage.
His understanding set me sufficiently on the right track to undertake a long period of practical application of a postural approach to riding: developing my own riding skills, training many different and challenging horses, and teaching diverse students on the lunge.
The experience of teaching the pure postural interaction between horse and rider on the lunge (with no reins, nor side-reins to create a false picture!) is invaluable, because it really tests the validity of your techniques, with no room for superficial appearances and shortcuts.
The real proof of expertise in teaching riding is not to be able to produce an advanced level of work (which can be achieved both correctly and incorrectly), it is to be able to teach the real basics to any rider - young or old, novice or experienced.
These basics - not just the seat, but the whole-body development of the rider - are too often neglected and misunderstood, and the whole edifice of more advanced skills is built upon extremely shaky foundations. I believe that this is one of the core reasons that dressage riding has so badly lost its way in the last 50 years.
Going the 'Whole Way' with the Holistic Approach
From the realization that gymnastically sound dressage requires a deep level of calm, trust and well-being, in collaboration my sister Camille, we developed our understanding of a holistic approach to all aspects of horsemanship and horse care. We created Happy Horse Training as an extensive resource of high-quality information for those who want to keep horses and work with them in a way that increases their well-being on every level, instead of sacrificing it for superficial goals.
We had also pursued, from an early stage in our journey, an interest in developing a therapeutic connection with horses through Craniosacral Therapy. I believe that this enriched, on many levels, our understanding of gymnastic training that is genuinely biomechanically correct, especially on the level of developing a highly sensitive feel for energy dynamics in the horse's body.
This is the awareness that allowed me to pursue the quality I now call 'Flow' - that magical but elusive transmission of power that happens when the horse's energies are correctly channeled, aligned and amplified. I believe that anyone can develop their awareness of this quality if they are given the right guidance, and learn how to make it the whole orientation of training and riding horses.
Reaching the Goal: Understanding the Process of Rider Development
The genuinely independent study of the interaction between horse and rider eventually bore the fruit of a deep understanding of the systematic development of the rider’s posture that brings about a corresponding postural development in the horse.
The result of this joint development of horse and rider is the harmony, lightness and unity that is so often described in dressage literature, and so frequently imitated, but that is rarely accomplished for real.
It’s misleading to pretend that acquiring these skills takes no effort, time or determination. Actually it is a challenge that requires us to grow in many ways, from the inside-out.
But what could be a more fantastic way to become a stronger, more confident and empowered, more compassionate and aware person than through the beautiful and timeless art of gymnastically sound riding? Not to mention the profound physical benefits it brings to both horse and human.
I believe that any rider who really wants this connection more than anything else can achieve it, but only with the right support. There are just too many factors going against it to stumble across it on your own.
It is my sincere and heartfelt vocation to share my knowledge with riders who are seeking the magical experience of becoming one with their horse.
Writing my book, The Gymnastic Rider, was an important step in doing this. The positive feedback I received from riders who found their connection with their horse transformed by applying the methods described in the book confirmed for me the universality of these principles.
However, as with the short residential teaching courses I offer from my base in the south-west of France, and traveling to give international teaching clinics, there was still the missing link of not being able to guide riders through the gymnastic process over a sufficient length of time to make the changes really stick and become a cohesive whole.
There’s no getting around the fact that it takes time and dedication to become a skilled, posturally effective rider. Like any form of mastery, the challenges and pitfalls are numerous. Unless you have support from someone who understands the process, you’re likely to give up or change course before you break through to recognisable results.
I began distance coaching several years ago, with BecomeOne Rider Coaching, as a way of supporting riders over the long term, and this experience of working with riders on the other side of the world has proven to me that it is possible for people to learn the skills of correct riding without teaching them in situ.
I went on to create the BecomeOne Academy online riding course because I wanted to help people in a way that is a lot more affordable than coaching, and that is also a lot less demanding of my time, allowing many more riders to access my methods.
I started out writing the Feel-Led Oneness Way workbook, intending to offer it as a one-off publication, but in the process I realised that it would be so much more valuable to accompany people through the journey, stage by stage, with an extended-duration course.
Through the BecomeOne Academy, I hope to share my passion for the deeply enriching and mutually empowering connection that postural riding offers with all riders who dream of becoming one with their horse.